Waxman-Markey Bill is About Climate AND Energy

As everyone not incarcerated, and some that are, knows, the US House of Representatives last week passed the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” know as ACES. It passed by the thinnest margin possible – one vote – and now goes on to the Senate.

Most of the press about ACES has centered on the cap-and-trade provisions. Relatively lost has been the fact that two of the four titles in the bill focus on energy – “clean energy” in Title I, and energy efficiency in Title II. Climate change significantly relates to the use of energy, of course, so combining these topics in a climate bill makes eminent sense. Decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels and dramatically increasing the energy efficiency of our economy are two of the most important strategies for reducing our national carbon footprint in a way that grows, rather than limits, our economic growth prospects.

There is a relatively small provision in Title II of the bill related to “energy efficient information and communications technologies” or ICT. Section 543 was inserted by Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who represents many Intel employees from our Santa Clara headquarters. Representative Eshoo, with support from Intel and our Digital Energy Solutions Campaign (DESC), recognizes the key role that ICT can and must play in addressing climate change.

Section 543 requires Federal agencies, in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to create implementation strategies for the “purchase and use of energy efficient information and communications technologies and practices.” Reading deeper into the text of this provision, it is clear that Representative Eshoo understands both the ‘micro’ and the ‘macro’ stories. She understands, at the micro level, the importance of the Federal government purchasing the best, most efficient ICT devices on the market. But even more critically, she understands how the use of that equipment can have an even greater impact in lowering the Federal government’s carbon footprint by improving the overall efficiency of agencies’ operations. The bill mentions energy metering, building efficiency technology, and telework as examples of where the government should focus.

What is implicit in Section 543, but worth emphasizing, is the ‘spotlight’ and ‘megaphone’ value of the Federal government taking the lead like this. Government agencies can apply best practices in energy efficiency and then share, via a Report to Congress and other communications, their ‘lessons learned’ for both the public and private sectors.

We applaud Rep. Eshoo for her work in this area and will be working to ensure this provision makes it through the legislative process ahead.

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